Week 1 – Lessons from the Law
Day 4 – God’s Plan for Provision: Deuteronomy 14:28,29; 16:11-14; 24:17-22; 26:12,13
Money. Money. Money. Why are so many things about money! It seems sometimes like money is the biggest hurdle in reaching out to the fatherless. Taking on a children’s home or even just adding one child to a family comes with a lot of expense. It takes a lot to feed and clothe extra children, but God has promised, as we will see later, that He is the one in whom the fatherless find mercy – Don’t you think He would have a plan for meeting their needs? The fact is: He does have a plan.
This is not an area into which I enjoy sticking my toes. But since it is one of the first and greatest hurdles, I’m kind of glad that God gets to it so quickly in Scripture. Now, remember that: God gets to it. I know that in most of the churches that I have been in, this is not the way things are generally handled. I am not trying to meddle. I’m just laying out what God says in His Word. In truth, it should be an encouragement, even if it does mean that the church that seeks to follow the Lord’s commands in these things, might have to change things up a bit. It should be encouraging because we don’t have to figure things out on our own. God has done it for us.
“At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.” Deuteronomy 14:28,29
Who was to partake of the tithe of the third year? Well, it wasn’t the electric company! The Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. Why were the people to do this? So that the Lord could bless them in all the work of their hands!
“And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes. Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow that are within thy gates.” Deuteronomy 16:11-14
Who was to be included in the feast of the tabernacles? Not just a man and his family, but also his servants, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. Notice that the Lord says “that is within thy gates” and “that are among you”. God didn’t expect one man to provide for an entire village, but He did expect them to provide for those that were within his sphere of influence. And he wanted them to do it joyfully! That same old reminder is there, as well, “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt.”
“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge: but thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.” Deuteronomy 24:17-22
Handfuls of purpose. Just think of the difference that one man following this command made in the lives, not only of himself and Naomi and Ruth, but in the entire nation of Israel! Without Boaz’s obedience there would have been no King David. The Messiah would have had to have come from a different line. “But” you may say, “We don’t harvest any more.” No, most of us don’t, although some do. Just the same, I am pretty sure that if we think (and pray) hard enough, we could come up with a modern day, personal application.
“When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and has given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:” Deuteronomy 26:12,13
What amazing peace God describes here! You will be able to say, “I have done God’s commandments. I haven’t forgotten them, I haven’t gone against them. I have kept them!” Of course, this isn’t God’s only commandment, but it is one upon which He puts great emphasis. And one which comes with great promise, as we will see tomorrow.
Most of this post is geared toward the church that would take up this ministry, but it is an individual responsibility as well. Our tithes are to go to our church, we don’t stop giving them so that we can be involved in a ministry of our own. So, how do we as individuals dare to take that first step? Faith is a tremendous part of this ministry. It is faith that steps in, in any church ministry, where tithe does not meet the need. And it is faith that is needed for that first, and any subsequent, step in the life of the individual. In some cases, that comes earlier than later. Is it daunting? Yes, at times. But it is doable, because it is God who is doing it! Worried you can’t make it? The easy, cliché answer is, “Don’t be, God’s in control.”, but a better answer, a more equipping answer, is this: Spend time looking into the lives of those who have stepped out into this realm and see how God supplied their need. George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, Charles H. Spurgeon. Even in the ministry of Forbid Them Not, we have seen over and over how something that should have been completely, financially impossible was made possible by God. If you would like some examples, just drop me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I would be glad to share them with you.
Don’t let finances hold you back from keeping God’s command. Faith is vital to this ministry. The task is overwhelming, but the need outweighs the task and our God is bigger than the need – He alone can provide the solution; He alone can provide salvation. And, after all, it IS a command!
Up next: Day 5: Promises